Mexico Captures Alleged Head of Once Mighty Juarez Cartel

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Authorities have captured the alleged head of the Juarez Cartel, once one of Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations that has since declined into a minor player in the country’s fragmented underworld.

On April 17, Mexican marines captured Jesus Salas Aguayo, alias “El Chuyin,” in the town of Villa Ahumada, which is located approximately 80 miles from the US border in the northern state of Chihuahua, reported Proceso. Mexico’s national security commissioner said Salas became the head of the cartel following the capture of long-time Juarez boss Vicente Carrillo Fuentes in October 2014 and his successor, David Aaron Espinoza Haro, in January, according to the New York Times.

Salas is on the US Drug Enforcement Adminstration’s (DEA) most wanted list, who accuse him of drug trafficking and ordering the 2009 killing of a protected witness in El Paso, Texas. He is reportedly wanted by Mexican authorities for homicide, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and gasoline theft. 

Authorities arrested four other Juarez Cartel operatives during the operation, according to Proceso.

InSight Crime Analysis

Salas’ capture underscores the extent to which the Juarez Cartel has been weakened in recent years, and the general atomization of large drug cartels across Mexico. Now that almost all of the major drug lords are either captured or killed, Mexican authorities are targeting their replacements. However, this next generation of cartel leaders has neither the power nor the criminal life expectancy of their predecessors. Vicente’s leadership of the Juarez Cartel stretched back decades, and he was considered one of the most powerful figures in Mexico’s underworld. Salas was in power for just three months, and it is unclear how much control he actually wielded over the cartel. 

SEE ALSO: Juarez Cartel News and Profile

The Juarez Cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest drug trafficking organizations, and established a firm foothold in the city from which it took its name. The cartel orchestrated the aerial trafficking of thousands of tons of Colombian cocaine to Mexico, then across the US-Mexico border by land.

However, the cartel would lose a long and bloody battle with the Sinaloa Cartel over Juarez, and Vicente was reportedly forced to regroup in neighboring Sonora state. By 2011, the Juarez Cartel was a shadow of what it had once been. According to authorities, the Juarez Cartel is currently only operating in Chihuahua, where the remnants of the cartel are still fighting the Sinaloa Cartel for control of drug trafficking routes.

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